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Posts from the ‘1974: Introducing Adamantine Being (Vajrasattva)’ Category

A New Tradition: Public Examinations

IMI monks and nuns, Kopan 1974From 1974: Introducing Adamantine Being (Vajrasattva) by Adele Hulse, Big Love author:

Lama Yeshe was very keen for his own students to be examined. Now that most of them had been studying for at least two years, Lama began holding public examinations at Kopan starting in December of 1974. The dates on which these were to be held were even advertised in Kathmandu. Each person was given a lam-rim subject, sometimes not until the exam was just about to begin. He or she had to give a talk on the topic in front of all the other students and then had to debate with Lama Yeshe and Zopa Rinpoche. These proved to be very interesting and successful events, where Lama carefully boosted the confidence of those who needed it. He was still constantly amazed at the lack of self-confidence among the apparently powerful Injis. This was also one of Lama’s teaching methods aimed at preparing his monks and nuns eventually to be able to teach the Dharma in the West.

From Lama Yeshe’s lecture to the IMI Sangha in preparation for the first public examinations:

“I think it is necessary that you know why we are going to hold examinations of IMI Sangha.

Since you took ordination, your life, your body and speech, do not belong to you, nor do they belong to Lama. They belong to all universal living beings. It was because of your understanding that you decided to live in the thirty-six vows, to renounce samsara. Lama did not push you. Therefore your duty is to integrate your body, speech and mind as much as possible into Dharma knowledge-wisdom and to give that light to all mother sentient beings. To do this it is not enough to spend all your life sitting on the mountain, doing a “Milarepa trip.” Nor is it enough to receive teachings on just one particular book—for example, the Vajrasattva text—and then spend your life studying that small information just for your own knowledge. To think that work such as this is the purpose of your life is a wrong conception.

You need to be able to explain the basic psychological Dharma wisdom terms that are found in the Prajnaparamita texts of Lord Buddha and in the commentaries written by Nagarjuna, Maitreya and Atisha. Those teachings have been integrated into the graduated path to liberation, the lam-rim. So the IMI Sangha have to at least know Lama Zopa’s lam-rim teaching completely.

The aim of establishing the Institute was to make sure you had the opportunity to study those teachings. You have to know and be able to explain these subjects at least intellectually. If you cannot even answer questions on an intellectual level, how can your actions become practice? First comes hearing, then intellectual understanding, then the experience, the realization.

So in order to have a clean-clear understanding you have to be able to express your thoughts and engage in debate. Many times you may think that you know the answers, you may even think you are Buddha. But when someone questions or contradicts you, then your words are nothingness, because of your limited mind. That can be very dangerous because you are thereby making Dharma wisdom tasteless, even making it smell like ka-ka. So by having deep understanding you have to be able to meditate and also to express yourself within the Sangha. In that way you keep your intellectual understanding and realizations together. You keep both your heart and your speech clean and working simultaneously.”

 

“Those public examinations were terrifying,” said Thubten Pemo. “Sometimes we were not told in advance what the topic would be or who was going to be examined. I remember speaking about impermanence and Rinpoche interrupting with questions. Dr. Nick called out and asked me something like, ‘Where does the ignorance go when we realize emptiness?’ and I replied, ‘Where does the darkness go when we turn on the light in the room?’ And everyone laughed.”

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The Seventh Kopan Meditation Course

Lama Yeshe at Kopan, 1974From 1974: Introducing Adamantine Being (Vajrasattva) by Adele Hulse, Big Love author:

The seventh Kopan meditation was organized slightly differently than previous courses. Since the attrition rate of the sixth course had been so severe, Vens. Chötak and Pende conducted pre-course interviews with everyone who registered for the course; they provided thorough orientation into the course discipline aimed especially at newcomers so they would know ahead of time what they were signing up for. In addition, once the course got going, there were actually two parallel courses running simultaneously. While the more advanced students, those who had already attended a couple of meditation courses, were receiving teachings on the lam-rim preliminary practices, or Jorchö, from Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Dr. Nick was guiding the new students in the basic lam-rim teachings. “So I was all disgruntled, being left to handle the new students while my peers were getting advanced teachings!” Nick recalled many years later.

Halfway through the seventh meditation course Lama Yeshe arrived at Kopan to a traditional welcome of the eight auspicious symbols drawn in white chalk on the forecourt. Everyone lined up to greet him with incense, flowers, and khatas as he stepped down from Mummy Max’s Jeep. Despite the rest in Mussoorie his senior students had never seen Lama looking so unwell. He was gray, breathing heavily, and looked uncomfortably bloated—all symptoms of his heart condition. But slowly the puffiness subsided and once more he looked golden and shiny. “Lama is invincible,” his students told themselves. “He’ll be fine.”

As a follow-up to the many tests Lama Yeshe had had while in the United States, a letter arrived from the chief resident at Memorial Hospital in Wisconsin, Dr. Frank Ryning, confirming his diagnosis:

Lama Thubten Yeshe has severe rheumatic heart disease. This means that one of his heart valves is deformed due to severe scarring of the valve. This valve normally prevents blood from flowing back into the heart from the aorta, the main channel through which blood is distributed to the rest of the body. However in Lama Yeshe’s case, deformity of the valve impedes blood flow out of the heart into the aorta. The patient can have no complaints even with severe obstruction, but once symptoms begin to appear the prognosis is grim, with most patients dying within a relatively short period of time.

Dr. Ryning suggested replacing the damaged valve with an artificial one, a low-risk operation, followed by a lifetime of anticoagulant medicine to be checked every six weeks. But Lama would have none of it.

The students who knew about Lama’s health problems took over a number of secretarial and administrative jobs in order to give him more time to rest. Lama scoffed at their concern. “Since a long time Western doctors have said I’d be dead three years ago but they know nothing of psychic energy and this magical illusory body. No, you please tell everyone not to worry about me. I’ll be here for a looooong time!” Still, some noticed that when Lama laughed, he would clutch his side, so now they hesitated to tell him funny things.

In an effort to protect his health some of Lama’s senior students decided to limit access to him. This did not endear them to newer students. However, if Lama really wanted to see someone he would simply run into them in the garden or on a path. No one could stop him doing that.

“Lama is really buddha, you know,” whispered one devoted student to George Churinoff. George, a graduate in astro-physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a teacher at the esteemed Choate School, was a newcomer at Kopan.

“I thought, ‘Ah, give me a break! Lama Zopa is the real one here. Who is this Lama Yeshe guy?’” George recalled. “The cult of adoration surrounding him revolted me. Once when Lama walked by me, I said, ‘It’s a nice day,’ and he replied, ‘Thank you, dear,’ and I thought, ‘What do you mean? Did you make the day?’ I was really negative.”

One day when one of the course participants was speaking with Lama Yeshe in his room, Lama Zopa came in, fell to his knees, and started to pray. For the benefit of that student Lama pointed toward himself and said, “Dorje Chang,” indicating that Rinpoche was seeing him in the aspect of Dorje Chang. (“Who is Dorje Chang?” a student once asked him. “The biggest buddha, dear,” Lama replied.) Some students reported that they had seen Rinpoche making offerings to Lama Yeshe with tears running down his face. At other times he would not raise his eyes to look at Lama at all. Lama Yeshe was often heard speaking brusquely to Rinpoche; at the same time he also told students that Rinpoche was one of the most highly evolved beings on this planet. Lama Yeshe addressed Lama Zopa as “Kusho.” This term is generally translated from the Tibetan as “your honor” or “your worship,” and is how Tibetans commonly address monks and others of higher rank in society. These translations, however, in no way capture the clear warmth and affection expressed when Lama Yeshe addressed Rinpoche in that way. Lama actually told one student that compared to Rinpoche, he himself was just a water buffalo. And late at night, when the two lamas were alone together, all that students ever heard was an indescribable cascade of their laughter pouring out across the hill, like two buddhas in total bliss.

Philippe Camus turned up with his friend Joseph. Lama Zopa asked Joseph to tell everyone his story. It seems that he had been profoundly affected by Lama Yeshe during an earlier course and had departed with the notion that having met him, he could now do anything. What Joseph wanted most of all was to become a famous hairdresser. This he had achieved, having acquired a glamorous salon in New York filled with celebrity customers. “Ah, this is good karma!” he thought. But then things started to go wrong, very wrong. Money disappeared. One day he was stabbed in the street. In a final attempt to reinstate his fortune Joseph sailed a yacht loaded with hashish into American waters, where it ran aground on a reef and was seized. Joseph’s celebrity attorney got him out of trouble but he realized that his good karma had run out. “I’ve got to get back to Yeshe! That’s where good karma comes from!” he told himself.  So here he was again, soaking it up. Lama Zopa found Joseph’s story very funny.

 

During the last ten days or so of the seventh meditation course, Lama Yeshe gave occasional teachings to the students on the theme of “Death, Bardo, and Rebirth.”

 

From Lama Yeshe’s lectures during the seventh Kopan meditation course, 1974:

After death we do not disappear. The energy of our consciousness does not disappear. Even though this physical body, these five aggregates, this physical energy, may disappear our consciousness still keeps going continuously. It doesn’t depend on whether you believe in this or not; your consciousness energy keeps going continuously. It’s natural. Energy is a natural phenomenon. So after death, your consciousness is functioning, continuously, continuously. If you are able to go beyond the ego’s wrong conceptions before you die, then you will not have to go to an uncontrolled suffering realm. On the other hand, as long as you possess an ego and its resultant wrong conceptions, you’ll automatically go to an uncontrolled situation. No one else can make you go there. Your uncontrolled circumstances are not just an idea; and no one has pushed you in that direction. It’s your own wrong-conception mind that pushes you into that uncontrolled channel.

That’s the kind of channel your mind is in now. Because you’re at the mercy of the five aggregates you get agitated. When you’re hungry or thirsty or in pain—all the information that makes you feel those things comes from these five aggregates, from this body. So the aggregates give so much information to your mind, which is in the “uncontrolled-situation” channel. Your own wrong-conception mind clung to this kind of body, and as a result you were born into an uncontrolled condition. You yourself put your mind into this kind of channel. Nobody else did it for you.

Until that uncontrolled energy is exhausted, you have to go through this cycle of death and rebirth. So after death we have an uncontrolled rebirth, maybe in a samsaric realm similar to where we are now. At present we are in a place where we can experience samsaric pleasure, aren’t we? We experience some samsaric happiness in this uncontrolled rebirth. But in another uncontrolled rebirth, we might be reborn as an animal or in what we call hell. But hell doesn’t mean a situation that goes on forever or a place that you can never come back from, which is how Westerners understand it. Hell is not a permanent state. It is also not something outside of us that we have to deal with, such as stones or a jungle. Hell is consciousness. The hell environment manifests from your consciousness, from your negative projection. Thus, the way you feel is your reality. Hell is not a place that is waiting for you, where you go down, down, down. It is also not a place where someone else puts you. When your consciousness is ready, you experience a certain impression from your environment. At that time, for you, hell is existent.

For example, from among all of us who are sitting here in this tent, there are some who feel that this tent is like hell and others who experience a good vibration, perhaps even a sense of bliss. These latter persons who are having a positive experience have clean clear vision and wholesome thoughts rather than an agitated mind. So even among those who are here, some are already in the hell realm. Yes! They’re already in a hell realm.

How can you distinguish a hell realm from the human realm? Normally we say that a hell realm is indicated by unusually extreme suffering, that is, suffering that is far beyond normal human suffering. You understand? The normal types of human suffering include the suffering of rebirth. During one’s lifetime, there is also the suffering of sickness, which is actually conflict that manifests through the body. And finally, there is the suffering of death. Rebirth, disease and death—these are the general human sufferings. We are all familiar with these. But the nature of hell is extreme suffering that is far greater than the usual human sufferings. Despite its intensity, that state is also impermanent. It does not last forever and is not static and unchangeable. When the energy for that state of consciousness is finished, then another reaction arises. If it didn’t then you would be suffering there permanently.

If you experience this tent as a hell realm, it is your schizophrenic, foggy mental projection that creates that experience. The experience does not arise from your belief. No matter whether you intellectually believe that this is a hell situation or not, for you the experience still comes, doesn’t it? It comes naturally. If you ask someone who is having this experience, “Do you believe this situation is like hell?” they’ll say, “I don’t know. I just know I have this kind of visualization.” They are going to tell you what they feel it’s like rather than what they believe it is. You can see that this kind of suffering doesn’t depend on our believing in it.

 

The Diamond Valley Course, Australia

The gompa at Diamond Valley, 1974From 1974: Introducing Adamantine Being (Vajrasattva) by Adele Hulse, Big Love author:

Nick Ribush’s old friends, Tom and Kathy Vichta, together with a team of students, had worked for eight months preparing for this course. It was to be held on an open piece of land out in the bush situated beside a pretty creek near the Vichtas’ small farm in Diamond Valley, which was in southeast Queensland. Pete Northend appeared just in time to build a small two-roomed cabin for the lamas out of mill ends lined with Styrofoam. Their cold water standpipe was the most sophisticated plumbing on site. The only hot water available came from a 44-gallon drum suspended over a fire.

After arriving in Sydney with the lamas, Anila Ann had immediately traveled to Diamond Valley to make sure everything was ready. Two hundred people turned up for the thirty-day course, and despite certain physical discomforts, the dropout rate was remarkably low. A big marquee sat above a tent city like a scene from the gold rush era. There was a “main street” and little clusters of tents tucked into gullies here and there. The kitchen tent had been set up beside the creek and tree trunks dragged into a semi-circle to serve as seating. The cuisine was rigidly purist—a macrobiotic diet of brown rice, vegetables, tofu, and miso,
all washed down with soy bean coffee and alfalfa tea.

Out in the tent city however, secret cakes were shared in the dark, cheeses were stashed away, and real coffee was brewed in out-of-the-way gullies. A few minor fights even broke out over sweet biscuits.

A local farmer, Ilse Lederman, decided to attend the course. At their first meeting Lama Yeshe told her that he had been a nun in his previous life and had a particular fondness for nuns. Ilse didn’t know what to make of that, but some years later she was ordained in the Theravadan tradition as Ayya Khema; she eventually wrote many books and became one of the best-known Buddhist nuns in the world.

Ilse’s husband, Gerd Lederman, provided a very special service: Every day he disposed of the contents of the portable lavatories.

The course followed the usual rigorous Kopan timetable. Everyone struggled to sit still on the plastic covered straw, which squeaked every time someone moved.

Yeshe Khadro, however, moved not an inch. YK’s mother lived nearby and Lama took time out to pay her a visit. “Marie was so happy and shining that I no longer worried about her being a Buddhist nun,” said Corrie Obst, a Catholic. “Lama Yeshe came to lunch and afterward he put one of those white scarves around me. It’s a funny thing but when my husband had died a few years before, my whole world had collapsed. When he gave me that scarf, all the worry and stress I’d been living with seemed to leave me. It never did come back,” she said.

Pete Northend had arrived in Australia with his Scottish friend from Kopan, Colin Crosbie, and another couple. It had been a long wild hippie ride that had ended in a confrontation with a female immigration officer in Singapore, where long hair on men was forbidden. “We all knew about the rules in Singapore so I tried to hide as much of it as I could by tying it up,” Pete described, “but she noticed it. So I lied, I said it was for religious reasons. She put ‘suspected hippie in transit’ on my passport and an armed guard escorted me onto the ship. But I kept my long hair.

“When the lamas arrived at Diamond Valley, Anila Ann asked me to draw their water. I didn’t really want them to see me because I just knew they would be right on my case. I crept up to their house very quietly. Well, Lama Yeshe was onto me in a flash. ‘Shing zö! How was your trip?’ he asked. I told him it was okay but that I’d had a bit of a problem with my long hair. ‘Well, if you have an attachment problem with your hair I can fix it very quick! I can chop it off!’ I knew I was attached to my hair and I felt bad about lying in Singapore so I said, ‘Okay, cut it off.’ Well, he absolutely massacred it. That same day five other people tried to even it up and in the end I had no hair at all. I looked ridiculous!”

Distracting love affairs were not unusual during courses. One student who had already attended several courses fell head over heels in love with a girl attending the course. It was love at first sight for him and he fondly imagined she felt the same. Unable to concentrate on Lama Zopa’s teachings, he went to see Lama Yeshe. “He listened patiently as I described how perfect, how psychic and magic my relationship with this girl was. Then he said, ‘Right now, dear, your mind is 100 percent deluded. She’s no different to this,’ and he tapped the Styrofoam wall lining. ‘You’re 100 percent deluded!’ I was annoyed by this and got up to leave. Suddenly he leapt off the bed, pinned me to the chair and, clamping his right hand on to my shoulder, stood over me, mumbling and blowing onto the crown of my head while vigorously rubbing up and down my spine with his left hand. It worked, because all my totally disturbing thoughts about this girl just died down. I was able to put them on hold until the end of the course.”

Lama Yeshe knew all about his students’ love affairs, about the chocolate stashes and their drug-taking. One day some of the wilder ones dropped some LSD and disappeared into the bush. “All of a sudden we looked up to see Lama Yeshe ahead of us skipping along from rock to rock and waving, not showing any displeasure or censure.”

Hank Sinnema was unsure if he wanted to remain at the course. “I skipped the teachings one day and was strolling around the bush when I spotted Lama Yeshe ahead of me. As he approached I started to feel apprehensive. He must have sensed this because he stopped and just stood looking at me. From his eyes beamed such a stream of love and compassion that my heart opened and I just felt transformed. To me he looked just like Saint Nicholas, from my Dutch childhood.” Running into people when they most needed it was part of Lama’s special magic.

The lamas took a day off to go to the beach in Tom Vichta’s van. Everyone got out to enjoy the view from the cliffs, but Lama Yeshe ran straight down to the water’s edge, hitched up his robes and waded in, splashing about with delight. He cupped the water in his hands and washed his face, leaping back in surprise at its saltiness. He had glimpsed the ocean in Calcutta and America but this appears to have been his first close encounter with it.

The ocean did not have the same appeal for Lama Zopa. He sat down to meditate against a tree, his back to the view, saying prayers for the sea creatures. No amount of encouragement would persuade him to stop and play. Lama was all for buying bathing shorts and diving in, but it was a Sunday and in those days that meant that all the shops were shut.

Peter Nelson was nineteen years old when he went to Diamond Valley. “One night I had an interview with Lama Yeshe. While I was waiting it started to rain, so I crawled under their little cabin to keep dry. I could hear Lama Yeshe walking around above me. From Lama Zopa’s room I could just hear his mala scraping the floor as he said mantras. During Rinpoche’s first teaching I had burst out crying, so I crept over and sat right under where I could hear his mala and imagined his blessings coming down through the crown of my head. I ran out when ants started biting me.

“A door opened and Lama Zopa called me into his room, which was pitch dark. He just sat there and held my hand while I cried for twenty minutes.

“When Lama Yeshe’s visitor left, he came to Rinpoche’s room and, in that lovely way of his, said, ‘You wanted to see me, dear?’ I had two questions: What was the difference between Buddha and Krishna? ‘None,’ he said. And how do I find my guru? He opened his eyes wide. ‘Dear, don’t you know?’ he said. ‘Lama Zopa is your guru.’”

Having the lamas in Australia and attending a meditation course among the gum trees was just too wonderful. On sunny days Lama Yeshe would lounge luxuriously on his tiny verandah, resplendent in a vivid cerise kaftan. One very hot day, a number of dedicated students met together and decided to build a permanent Australian center. That same afternoon, while everyone else was in the tent with Rinpoche and Lama Yeshe was alone in his little cabin, a bushfire broke out in the valley. Somebody had the presence of mind to hit the big dinner gong. Everybody rushed out to see fire rapidly approaching the cabin. “Quick, Lama!” they shouted, banging on his door. “Get out now! The fire is coming this way and your cabin is lined in plastic! It will go up like a bomb!” Lama just laughed at them. He told his frantic students that the fire was an auspicious omen indicating that the new Queensland center would grow very quickly. The fire stopped a hundred meters from the cabin. Lama Yeshe never even came out of his room to watch. Rinpoche just continued teaching.

New York, New York

The lamas cooking, New York, 1974From 1974: Introducing Adamantine Being (Vajrasattva) by Adele Hulse, Big Love author:

In July 1974 the lamas and Mummy Max arrived in New York and presented themselves to Dr. Shen, with many gifts. Max hadn’t been back to the States since 1958. While in New York she stayed downtown with her sister. The Solicks arranged for the lamas to stay in a friend’s flat that was located not far from their home in Brooklyn.

Their hostess offered them her floor. Lama Zopa Rinpoche promptly set up his shrine on top of his sleeping bag and did pujas and meditations, just as at Kopan. This accommodation was not appropriate for the lamas but there were no complaints, even when Lama Yeshe developed a nasty cold.

One day the pair set out alone to look for a pizza. They didn’t notice the young man sobbing into his vodka outside a Brooklyn bar, but he saw them. His Eminence Prince Ida Ratu Deva Agung Sri Acarya Vajra Kumara Pandji Pandita was not only a prince of the royal family of Bali, Indonesia, he had spent many years of his young life as a Buddhist monk and had been recognized as an incarnate teacher.

But two years earlier, the prince, known as Ratu, had abandoned everything.

“I was twenty, working in Brooklyn as a waiter and had just got a letter from my girlfriend inviting me to her wedding. I was very drunk—devastated, utterly broken-hearted and, really, suicidal. My whole world had caved in on me. I looked up the street and through my drunken haze saw two Buddhist monks walking toward me. I ran up to them because I knew I could talk to monks, at least. They asked if there was a pizza place nearby and I took them to one. I bought them pizzas and we started talking. I ended up spending nearly the entire day with them. I took refuge with Lama Yeshe and told him my sad story. He encouraged me to return to a spiritual life, and when I looked into his eyes I saw there the kindness of all my teachers.

“I told them that my lineage was that of Atisha’s teacher in Indonesia who is known in Tibetan Buddhism as Lama Serlingpa. Lama Yeshe was a very beautiful man. He put me back on the right path. The next day I began saying Vajrasattva mantra over and over and reading the bodhicitta vows over and over, for about nine months. It completely cleared my mind and I returned to Bali to resume my spiritual duties there. If I had not met Lama Yeshe at that time I would be dead by now. Nor would I have met the other lamas in my life, such as Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.”

Prince Ratu went on to found the King Pandji Sakti Sangha Vajrayana Buddhist Society, with centers in the USA, Ireland, Spain, and Australia.

This royal prince may well have bought the lamas their very first pizza. Some Kopan students living in New York took them out to some rather grubby cheap restaurants. The lamas could have easily fallen ill. Many students were just too young and inexperienced to realize that they needed special care, and of course Lama Yeshe only ever said, “Thank you, dear,” to everything. He even said thank you to automatic doors!

Elevators were a revelation to the lamas. “Whoosh!” said Rinpoche. “Just like rising attachment!”

Lama Yeshe told his students that he thought the best place to meditate in an American home was the bathroom—it was the only place where one could find some privacy and get away from the decor.

Lama Yeshe and Zopa Rinpoche had lunch one day with Geshe Wangyal, an important Mongolian scholar. He had been brought to New Jersey in 1955 by the Tolstoy Foundation to minister to the Kalmyk-Mongolian refugees who came to America after World War II. The lamas then flew to Wisconsin to see Geshe Lhundup Sopa, Lama Yeshe’s long-time teacher, now a professor in the Buddhist Studies Department of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Lama Yeshe always sent Kopan students in the region to see Geshe Sopa. One of these students joined them for lunch. “They were having a really good time together,” he said. “Geshe Sopa sat on the floor for the meal so Lama Yeshe tried to scrunch himself down even lower, which meant that Rinpoche had to just about lie flat in order to be lower than both of them.”

While in Madison Lama told his old teacher about his heart problems. Some doctors had recommended surgery, but Lama didn’t like the idea. However, he agreed to return to Wisconsin for tests after his tour, which was to begin in Nashville, Indiana. Louie-Bob Wood, a local bookshop owner and student of the lamas, had arranged for them to teach there.

Louie-Bob’s introduction to the lamas was very much out of the ordinary. Several years earlier, she had just moved to Nashville, where she had opened a psychic and occult specialty bookshop. One night in May 1968, while talking with her husband in front of their TV, which was turned off, he suddenly pointed to the set, saying, “Look!”

From that evening forward Louie-Bob told this story many times: “On the blank screen, clear as a bell, was the image of a monk,” she said. “First he looked at me then he turned and looked at Don. He had the most intense eyes we had ever seen. His look seemed to tell us that he not only knew precisely what we were thinking at that particular moment, but also everything we had ever thought. At the time we didn’t exactly go around telling everyone about this incident.

“Five years later a series of coincidences led me to the fifth meditation course at Kopan. I was full of anticipation. Zopa Rinpoche walked into the tent, having just shaved his head. Suddenly, I realized that his was the face I had seen on the TV! I waited another two weeks before telling him about it. He listened intently then said, ‘It was for a reason.’ I gave him a little sterling silver cross I had worn for years.

“At this stage I still hadn’t seen Lama Yeshe, until one evening I walked into his candle-lit room. The impact of it overwhelmed me—he just filled the room. ‘I suppose each person who comes to see you believes that fate has brought them here,’ I said to him. ‘Yes, yes,’ he said. Then he reached into his shirt and produced my little silver cross. Suddenly, I realized what was going on, that the image of Rinpoche I had seen on the television screen had been sent by Lama Yeshe. ‘You sent him,’ I said.”

Now the lamas had arrived in her home, ready to teach their first course in the West. “The morning after the lamas got here, people just began walking up our driveway,” said Louie-Bob. “Around seventy came just to see these Tibetan monks. None of them had been invited, though a lot of people knew the monks were coming. They just sat down in my yard, many with gifts of food for them. Zopa Rinpoche gave a talk from the porch. The next day Lama Yeshe spoke to them in the living room.”

Afterward, Lama Yeshe went up to a small bedroom and everyone lined up on the stairs and, indeed, all through the house in order to have a fifteen-minute interview with him. ‘”I asked him to bless my family signet ring,” recalled George Propps, a local realtor. “I couldn’t think of anything else. Afterward I thought I should have asked about my future, but that would have been ridiculous. I knew this wasn’t about fortune-telling.”

“I remember Lama Zopa was simply fascinated by our dishwasher,” said Louie-Bob. “He told me there were ‘too many’ kinds of cereal in the local food store. Also, one day he tasted ice cream—very gingerly. Lama Yeshe and my husband, Don, sat on a bench in town playing with plastic bubble bears. You squeeze them and bubbles float up from their heads,” she recalled fondly.

It was here at Louie-Bob’s that the lamas founded their first Western center, naming it the Bodhicitta Education Research and Retreat Center for Developing Human Potential.

 

The Sixth Kopan Meditation Course

Rinpoche teaching, Kopan, 1974From 1974: Introducing Adamantine Being (Vajrasattva) by Adele Hulse, Big Love author:

It was springtime in Nepal; the days were starting to get warmer, the weather was generally sunny and breezy, dry and dusty, while the nights were still quite chilly. The sixth meditation course began on 22 March 1974. Preparations had been going on for several weeks. The big tent behind the gompa came from army headquarters in Kathmandu and was installed at the very last minute. The army even sent Gurkhas to Kopan to help set it up.

The meditation course was well known along the hippie trail, a cool thing to do if you were spiritual—and it was definitely cool to be spiritual in the Himalayas. Nepal was a magical place to be and the wonderful views over the Kathmandu Valley could not fail to lift hearts and minds.

Harvey Horrocks, Peter Kedge’s friend from the aeronautical division of Rolls-Royce, had returned to Nepal to do the course. Yeshe Khadro managed the office. Thanks to Mummy Max asking Roger, a tall skinny Australian lad, what he did for a living, there was now some electricity at Kopan—parts of it, at least. This young electrician was thereafter known as Electric Roger.

Anila Ann led the meditation sessions and Chötak did all the shopping for the community. Lama Yeshe knew he would never waste a penny. “Lama used to call me ‘the backward Indian boy,’” said Chötak. “He knew I couldn’t possibly fit in with the sort of regime the new Sangha were into.” Losang Nyima had been sent to work at Tushita in Dharamsala as the housekeeper.

Once the course got started, Lama Zopa Rinpoche relentlessly unraveled the sufferings of existence, particularly those of the lower realms of existence—the hot and cold hells, and the realm of the pretas. Rinpoche also spoke at length on the shortcomings of seeking pleasure for oneself and the immense value of caring for others. But the spiritually cool wanted auras, astral travel, and tantric sex.

Two hundred and fifty people enrolled for the course; within two weeks over seventy had left. Lama Yeshe didn’t mind at all—he even made a comment about “junk” people. “Junk” was one of his newest words.

Many people were finding meditation to be very difficult and the group was becoming increasingly agitated. “One morning Lama called me to breakfast,” said Peter Kedge. “He made oatmeal and served it to me. I don’t know what it was but it was the most delicious oatmeal I have ever eaten in my life. After I’d finished, Lama said that I had to give a talk and tell everyone that nobody invited them to come, but as long as they are here they have to follow the discipline, follow the program, and keep the five precepts. Anyone was welcome to leave if they didn’t like it.”

By the third week of the course the tension was palpable. One day, a man stood at the back of the tent holding up his watch and calling out that it was time that Lama Zopa stopped talking. Time was never anything to Rinpoche. Some accused him of brainwashing. Just before the afternoon tea break a sudden storm erupted but ended just as quickly, leaving in its wake spectacular double rainbows in the valley below. Immediately the group tension just melted away. An hour later a bird flew into the tent and perched on someone’s shoulder.

During one meditation session several students found themselves rocking back and forth involuntarily. Someone had already asked Lama Zopa about this unusual sensation that some people experienced during meditation. Rinpoche put it down to a simple lack of control. However, this time the flowering plant on the throne was also rocking. Actually, the earth itself was shuddering. “Meditate on bodhicitta; it is very important!” Rinpoche instructed. If this was going to be the last moment in their lives, the one truly valuable act they could do was to generate the compassionate wish to be of maximum benefit to others. Then everything went dead quiet. Moments later the valley below filled with the frightened barking of hundreds of dogs and the anxious cries of villagers. Three separate earth tremors followed but no real damage was done.

* * *
From Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s sixth meditation course teachings:

Bodhicitta is a pure thought. Its essence is caring more for others than yourself. This is the opposite of the thought that always puts yourself first, the mind that thinks, “I am the most important of all.” The person with bodhicitta thinks that others are more important. This is the complete opposite of self-cherishing—you always want to sacrifice yourself in order to benefit others, to give pleasure to others, to free others from suffering, to enlighten other sentient beings.

And anybody can practice bodhicitta. It doesn’t depend on your color, caste, race, class or the way you dress. It doesn’t even depend upon your religion—even Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, anybody can practice bodhicitta.

No matter what you are called, you need to develop this pure thought because with it you never give harm to either yourself or other beings; not the tiniest atom of trouble. And besides not giving even an atom of harm, bodhicitta always keeps you and others in peace. With this pure thought in mind there’s no way you can hurt others in any way. Furthermore, anything you do for the benefit of others, such as making charity, teaching Dharma and so forth, is all the more pure and sincere; these actions are pure since they’re done with the motivation of wanting to release others from problems. The more an action is pure and sincere, the more beneficial it becomes.

Bodhicitta is especially important if you’re serious about desiring world peace. People who achieve bodhicitta can never give trouble to others out of jealousy, pride, avarice or aggression because these minds come from the self-cherishing thought and bodhicitta completely eliminates it. If everybody had bodhicitta, world peace would become a real possibility. Peace doesn’t depend so much on action—giving lectures, holding conferences, building things and so forth—because if what is done is tainted by the self-cherishing thought, even though its intention is to bring world peace, it is not pure and it won’t bring peace. If an action is motivated by self-cherishing, delusion, greed or hatred it cannot be pure. Therefore it cannot benefit others that much, it doesn’t have much power to benefit. Also, it can cause complications and suffering.

Anyway, actions done out of the negative mind are not the cause of peace, not the cause of happiness. They cause only suffering for self and others because they are rooted in negativity. Peace and happiness result from positive actions; positive actions arise from a pure mind.

So, if you really want to experience peace and bring peace to everybody on earth, you should not put so much energy into developing external objects but redirect it into developed and changing the mind—your own and others’. The negative mind is the cause of turmoil and suffering. Work at eradicating this poisonous root of suffering, which reaches deep into sentient beings’ minds, and planting the healing root of happiness, bodhicitta.

* * *

Adrian Feldmann, a doctor from Melbourne who knew all Nick’s friends, didn’t enjoy that course at all. He regularly marched off down to Boudha for steak dinners. Like many newcomers, especially the Jewish ones, Adrian was appalled by the practice of prostrating. He also suspected there was a lot of brainwashing going on. Yet every time he tried to better Lama Zopa in an argument, he got nowhere. At one point when Rinpoche was talking about the subtle aspects of death, Adrian stood up and said, “Do you mean to tell me that all those people I have certified dead were not really dead?” He was clearly outraged by the thought. Lama Yeshe had yet to make an appearance.

One day Adrian walked out in the middle of a discourse and climbed to the top of the ancient hill overlooking the gompa. “Three Nepalese children looking after their goats sat down beside me and offered me some boiled sweets,” said Adrian. “This is reality, I thought. What was going on down there in the tent, that wasn’t reality. I looked across to the gompa balcony and there was Lama Yeshe, quietly watching me. Suddenly I knew exactly what was going to happen next. Sure enough, a few minutes later he appeared at my side and looking me square in the eye said, ‘If you want power, get back into that tent.’ That really floored me because it was the Carlos Castaneda/Don Juan spiritual power thing that interested me about Buddhism. But I looked back at him and said, ‘No.’ He just turned, talked to the children for a moment, and left. That was my first meeting with Lama Yeshe,” said Adrian.

When it was time for Lama Yeshe’s talk everyone was nicely keyed up and expecting relief, insight, and laughter. Everyone sat in the tent and waited and waited. Suddenly peals of high-pitched laughter burst forth. Lama Yeshe flung aside the zen covering his face—he had crept in and sat down among the students without even one of them noticing. It reduced everyone to tears of laughter.

Adrian Feldmann was ready to do battle during the question-and-answer session. As a doctor he was not impressed with the concept of reincarnation and argued back and forth about the signs of death. Lama Yeshe insisted that death was accompanied by subtle signs that continued to manifest long after what was called clinical death. Adrian sulked. Western doctors are used to being right. When someone asked about the causes of schizophrenia, Lama Yeshe said that these lay in confused messages received in one’s childhood, leading to an inability to make decisions, heightened sensitivity, and paranoia. Suddenly Adrian was impressed. He had recently worked in a psychiatric hospital and shared exactly that view—one also held by the famous British psychiatrist, R. D. Laing.

“What would you know about it?” called one student aggressively from the back. “Are you speaking from experience?” Lama put his hands together in prayer and leaned forward. “Of course, dear, how else would you like me to speak? From a book?”

A highly qualified biologist then asked several complex questions about sentience in plants. She had stories of cacti traveling, grieving, and showing signs of pleasure. Surely if an ant was sentient, weren’t plants sentient, too? Because Lama Yeshe’s English was so basic her questions had to be very simply worded, which meant everyone could understand them. Lama replied that organic elemental energy is not the same as sentience. Cacti are not sentient, as they do not have the potential to reach enlightenment.

One of Lama Yeshe’s favorite teaching words was “chocolate,” which signified to him all that was delicious and pleasurable, even blissful, in life. For example: “Enlightenment is not just chocolate at the end, in a lump. It is chocolate, chocolate, chocolate all the way!”

 

Life Among the Mount Everest Centre Monks

MEC students in Bodhgaya, India, 1974From 1974: Introducing Adamantine Being (Vajrasattva) by Adele Hulse, Big Love author:

By 1974 Michael Losang Yeshe, then nine, had spent almost half his life at Kopan. Olivia, his mother, now lived in Japan. One day Michael received a parcel from her. “Lama Yeshe heard about it and came to my room,” said Michael. “‘Where is the parcel?’ he asked. ‘Open it.’ He looked inside and handed me a set of colored pencils. ‘These colors, these are for everyone, not just you.’ He pulled out a shirt and underwear. ‘These you can wear.’ Then he saw the fancy Mickey Mouse watch. ‘You’re too young for a watch; you don’t know how to tell time. This for me. I keep for you.’ If I had kept it, I would only have lost it, or traded it for comics or something a few days later. He never did give it back,” said Michael.

Very occasionally the boys were given cash offerings at pujas. When Michael’s father, Yorgo, married a Nepali woman and moved to Kathmandu, he sponsored a big puja at his house. All the boys there received 100 rupees each. When they returned to Kopan Lama took all the rupees from them. They didn’t need money—Kopan did. Yorgo also donated buffaloes to Kopan so the monastery wouldn’t have to buy milk, and he often drove Lama around town on errands.

Lama Yeshe could shift at the drop of a hat from acting the clown to being extremely wrathful. Every inch the abbot, he would walk up and down the rows of small boys in the gompa, making sure they paid attention and not hesitating to discipline them with judicious use of his heavy mala where required.

“I was a naughty one,” said Tenzin Dorje Rinpoche, also known as Charok Lama. “I was lazy and he beat me on the shoulders with his big mala or with a stick. The big wooden malas really hurt. Many boys cried when Lama hit. The Western view is that hitting is bad, but Lama’s motivation and his way of hitting were different. Somehow I was always happy after he hit me. Of course, there were some boys who really didn’t want to be in the monastery and who didn’t like Lama either. But Lama always told us to have an open ear, to listen to everyone for a good education. That way we would develop bigger ideas, which are more beneficial.”

Before the Kalachakra in Bodhgaya the boys had had classes only in the mornings and then had played in the afternoons. But after the Kalachakra Lama Yeshe had them working in the gardens in the afternoons, instead of just making noise. Gardening included lugging water up from the spring, an endless and arduous task but exactly what they would have been doing had they stayed in Solu Khumbu. Lama did not want them to waste any time. Now they had fresh milk, and Lama Pasang built a chicken coop so they could have eggs, too.

The Mount Everest Centre population was constantly changing as new boys arrived and others left. They included Sherpas, a few Tibetans, and Manangis, boys from the Manang Valley, which lies close to the Tibetan border north of Pokhara. At one stage there were more Manangis at Kopan than Sherpas, but over time many of these left.

Everyone on the hill knew that Lama Yeshe took a nap every afternoon after lunch. “For his heart,” they said. It was also the only privacy he could count on during the day. “One day when we were all making a lot of noise in front of the office after lunch, he came down and went whack! whack! whack! getting three boys at a time with his big bamboo stick,” said Michael Losang Yeshe. “We were always told to keep quiet at that time. Once an urgent message arrived after lunch and some boys were sent to his room. When they opened the door and peeked in he wasn’t asleep at all, but sitting up surrounded by texts, studying.”

Although this time after lunch was generally called Lama Yeshe’s “rest time,” his students came to know in later years that this was actually Lama’s daily meditation time, when he meditated on the clear light. Some years later, Lama Zopa Rinpoche reminisced, “After lunch each day Lama usually went to rest for one or two hours. Wherever Lama was, in the West or in the East, Lama tried to take time to rest. In the beginning I didn’t realize what Lama was doing and thought it was just like our sleep; then gradually I felt that it was actually a meditation session. In the general view, Lama was continuing to meditate on clear light in order to develop that realization. People who didn’t know that Lama was a great hidden yogi, a great tantric practitioner, might believe that what Lama calls “rest” or “sleep” is the same as an ordinary person’s sleep.”

Mummy Max was perfectly cast in her role. Whenever her Jeep was seen coming up the hill, word flew around, “Mummy’s coming! Mummy’s coming!” The boys would rush to meet her in the courtyard, knowing that she would have a treat for them.

Their first picnic with Max was like a trip to another planet. “She sent two beautiful clean buses from Lincoln School for us,” said Michael Losang Yeshe. “We had never seen anything like them in our lives and couldn’t believe they were for us to ride in. Lama Yeshe came, too. We went to Parphing, two hours away, and had a picnic on a nice big open plateau. Mummy had paper cups and paper napkins for us. We had never touched anything like paper cups…and napkins!”

 

Parphing, located southwest of Kathmandu city in the hills surrounding the valley close to the Hindu pilgrimage site of Dakshinkali, is a popular and very sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site. There are many temples, shrines, and holy places in and around Parphing, many of which are connected to various female Buddhist deities, just as Dakshinkali is devoted to the wrathful female Hindu deity, Kali. It is said that many women saints and meditators practiced nearby.

In Parphing is an important Vajrayogini temple, built in the eleventh century, which is where many Vajrayogini lineage holders and realized practitioners did retreat and gained realizations over the centuries. The great mahasiddha Naropa himself resided there not long after the temple was built. In the eighth century, long before Naropa’s time, the great Guru Padmasambhava had stayed in Parphing for some time after leaving Tibet. There, together with his consort Sakyadevi, he attained enlightenment while retreating in Langlesho cave, high on the hillside there. One day when Padmasambhava exited the cave in an exalted state of mind, he placed his hand against the rock face of the mountain and left a miraculous handprint impressed forever in the stone, which can still be seen today.

On a hillside at Parphing, close to a spring, several bas-relief images of Tara are clearly visible in a rock, some of their features more clearly formed than others. They are said to be self-emanating—emerging from the rock by their own power. In the 1970s there was only one Tara image, but one by one new Tara images have been gradually appearing in the rock next to that spring.

 

Kalachakra Initiation, Bodhgaya

H.H. Dalai Lama, Bodhgaya, 1974From 1974: Introducing Adamantine Being (Vajrasattva) by Adele Hulse, Big Love author:

In January 1974 His Holiness the Dalai Lama bestowed the Kalachakra (Wheel of Time) initiation for the fifth time in his life, and the third since leaving Tibet. The profound Kalachakra Tantra, a pathway to full enlightenment, contains elements of astrology, medicine, and mathematics. Over 100,000 Tibetans descended on Bodhgaya. They came by train, bus, rickshaw, and on foot from many places inside and outside India: Dharamsala, Darjeeling, Dalhousie, Mysore, and Bangalore; from Ladakh, Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal, and Tibet, many of them wearing local costumes and jewelry. Tent cities sprang up with bustling restaurants serving all types of Tibetan and Indian food—momos (Tibetan meat dumplings), thukpa (Tibetan meat stew), samosas, chai, and the like—alongside market stalls selling clothes, religious objects, and antiques. It was a scene out of National Geographic magazine.

Several hundred Westerners also poured into Bodhgaya for the initiation. Many of them stayed in the Tibetan tent-restaurants, which allowed people to sleep on the wide benches at night. The hippies in their motley garb mixed easily with the wild folk from the mountains, the men in sheepskin trousers, their long plaits woven with red ribbon. For many Tibetans it was their first sight of the Dalai Lama. They prostrated and cried loudly. All day and all night pilgrims circumambulated the Mahabodhi stupa on its three different walkways, many prostrating all the way around.

Everybody at Kopan who could get to Bodhgaya went there. When asked to explain the Kalachakra initiation, Lama Yeshe became very serious, telling the students this was not something they should take lightly. The lamas flew to the gray, poverty-stricken city of Patna with Mummy Max, Marcel, and two of Jampa Trinley’s children. For once Mummy Max was short of money and so Linda Grossman paid for the lamas’ tickets—an auspicious prelude to her ordination.

The moment they landed Lama Yeshe appeared to change personality.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Marcel Bertels recalled. “He put on this incredible tough face and shouted at the taxi driver and staff at the Hotel Patna, where we stayed overnight. However, it was very effective. It got us everything we needed without any fuss. But he was so stern, so different—even his body language.

“Rinpoche was confounded by the showers in our hotel rooms. He thought taking all your clothes off and getting wet was a total waste of time, especially when it was mid-winter and very foggy. The next day, we took a train to Gaya, then taxis to Bodhgaya.”

Marcel con’t asked to be ordained but Lama told me to do so, saying to me, ‘Life is very short and many things can happen; it is good protection for the future to be ordained.’ I had nothing but one shirt and a zen [monk’s shawl], so he gave me his shemtab [monk’s skirt] and a shirt. It was a good shemtab, one that Max had bought him. Later, he took it back. I had to tell my parents about my ordination, but I definitely didn’t have to ask their permission.”

Lama told Pete Northend that he too should be ordained in Bodhgaya with the others, but Pete declined. He and Steve Malasky were charged with the task of taking to India as many little monks as would fit into the rattling old Bedford van that Kopan had acquired. It was known as the Grey Steel Death Trap. During the colder periods of winter, it could only be started after a small fire had first been lit under the diesel tank to warm it up.

Pete Northend remembered that trip. “We squeezed in about fourteen of them with their bedding and food. Of course they didn’t have papers so we had to creep across the borders and be really nice to the guards so they wouldn’t check inside the van.

“When we got to Bodhgaya I felt really strange, like I should have been getting ordained after all. But I just couldn’t. They had good tents for us. Peter Kedge had got hold of some army tents from Pathankot. Lama Yeshe’s was in the back garden of the Mahabodhi Society, which manages the stupa.”

The rest of the monks and Injis, about twenty people in all, traveled to Bodhgaya in the back—or on top!—of a large cattle truck that they had rented. It was a long and extremely bumpy ride, lasting three days in all. Needless to say, everyone was most relieved to arrive at their destination.

Word got around that Lama Yeshe was going to give a talk to the Injis about taking a tantric initiation and the tantric vows. The Japanese temple was packed with students who were all very relieved to hear someone teach in English. Lama Yeshe arrived, mounted the throne, and sat in utter stillness and silence for a full five minutes. Then, placing his hands on his heart, he said, “I hope you people are not expecting too much from me. That’s why we meditated silently…because I do not have knowledge, such deep understanding… One thing, my students are always begging. Until now, I am waiting to see if somebody does for them, because there are many higher lamas here, the very highest lamas who are existing in this time and this place. So I wait up to now. But they tell me they need badly, so I come here today for their expectation mind. But I hope you don’t have too much expectation.”

The essence of the talk that followed was basic Buddhism, but some students were excited by the esoterics of the Kalachakra and had complicated questions they hardly knew how to ask. “How do you visualize the mandala?” asked one. “At which stage do you enter the mandala?” asked another. Lama’s answers were simple. “Well, you don’t need to know those things,” he told them. “The main thing for you to do is learn to meditate and focus. I know you don’t know what’s going on out there, but sometimes neither do learned Tibetan geshes. We don’t know, but we just sit there and feel blissful and experience that bliss.”

 

From Lama Yeshe’s talk for Westerners at the Japanese temple in Bodhgaya:

To receive such a powerful initiation we traditionally need certain qualifications, certain inner understandings. Therefore, we are strict. If we are not strict, we are empty. We are not empty! And we are not miserly with the teachings. We have no reason to be. On the one hand, we have the lama’s experience. And on the other, we have the nature of the Mahayana teaching. The Mahayana teachings provide an individual method for each individual personality, or even for each distinct element of an individual sentient being’s mind.

As you can see, we have so many people who are here to take the initiation. But as we have observed, each one of us receives that powerful initiation individually. Just because everybody is sitting in one place, you believe that each person’s energy body receives the same thing? (laughs) Really!?! It’s so simple, isn’t it! You should check up yourself. You don’t need me to explain it to you.

To receive this initiation, the most important things you need are a pure motivation, that is, the mind of bodhicitta, together with a renunciation of samsara and an understanding of the reality nature of your own mind, or shunyata. Whatever you call it! These are what you need!

Don’t be afraid when I talk about this bodhicitta mind. Bodhicitta means to have a pure motivation, such as when we are not involved with our ego trips or with attachment to sense gratification and reputation, when we are very sincerely wishing to reach everlasting blissful enlightenment as quickly as possible for mother sentient beings. If you have this kind of motivation, then you have got it right. No matter what you are, whether black, white, yellow, red or green, it doesn’t matter! This is the most important thing of all, dear.

Then, when Lama talks about renunciation of samsara, you are also afraid. Normally people have some fear when we say “renunciation.” But you should understand clearly and exactly what renunciation is. It is not referring to the externals; instead it means to renounce whatever makes you agitated in your mind. This is an example of how we often have trouble with words.

“Lama says renunciation! Lama says suffering!” But so often, what you think is meant by those words doesn’t exist; they are not existent. I tell you! Really!

Renunciation doesn’t mean that I give up this place and so I go somewhere else. Not like that…. You should know! By understanding the nature of your own confused mind, by understanding and being willing to reach beyond it, to apply a solution for your own problem, that is renunciation. That is renunciation of samsara! Good enough!

Renunciation of samsara does not mean to become extreme, by not eating or drinking, or by trying to eliminate completely every need. That doesn’t help. We renounce the mind full of superstition, filled by superstition, by uncontrolled sensations, uncontrolled feelings, uncontrolled emotions. All of this is the source of our suffering! This is Lama’s connotation, Lama’s understanding of suffering! That’s all! You may believe that your physical situation is okay. You have good health, you have possessions, money, and so on; you don’t have any physical problems. But if you check up there is something; there is some problem in your mind. This is Lama’s understanding, Lama’s connotation of suffering! So simple, dear! So simple!

When we explain suffering, maybe we should say “schizophrenic disease,” or “mental disease.” That might make more sense for Westerners’ minds rather than saying “suffering.” You should understand this well, because understanding is far more important than just believing. That is very important to emphasize. That is the reason that I stress understanding the three prerequisites of the initiation. They are of great importance for your life. This teaching, this Kalachakra initiation, is almost an impossible thing to happen. It is so very important for you to take advantage of this powerful teaching.

 

Lama Yeshe’s candor cheered everyone considerably. “I was hooked,” said Andy Weber, a German artist. “I thought he was one of the most realized beings I had ever met.” Andy Weber later turned up at Kopan, as did a number of other Injis present at that talk. Among these was Kathleen McDonald, a serious young American who initially thought Lama was a bit of an old fake. “I thought he was just pretending to love people,” Kathleen said, “that it just couldn’t be genuine. I was very cynical and didn’t believe in love. But then I met him in Dharamsala and he was so utterly gentle with me I decided to go to Kopan to check things out.”

Anila Ann reminded students at the Japanese temple that every highest yoga tantra initiation, such as Kalachakra, required that they take on the commitment to recite and meditate on a particular prayer, the Six-Session Guru Yoga, six times a day. “Sure,” they all said, hardly knowing what they were agreeing to.

One young American anxiously asked Lama whether or not he should attend an initiation about which he understood nothing. Lama told him, “Even the dogs in Bodhgaya will be getting His Holiness’s blessing!”

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